Performing Arts good for the community

The opening of The Magnolia, El Cajon’s Performing Arts Center, scheduled for this month, is not only highly anticpated, but highly needed.

El Cajon has become a thriving arts district with its downtown boasting half a dozen galleries all within walking distance, with festivals and celebrations to boot. The beloved Alleycat Art Walk is Friday, Sept. 13 and the Olaf Wieghorst Museum has just gotten a make-over and some steady open hours.

But while El Cajon is a host to paint and sculpture, music and theater has been rather homeless here – a shame, since there is no lack of talent.

Hopefully, this new venue will tap into that.

But it is common to hear how much community artists need a place to showcase their work, a visibility in the community that may inspire youth to get involved or foster a sense of pride in the neighborhood.

What is less often heard is how much we need the arts.

If you don’t have plans to visit The Magnolia already, I would highly recommend it.

Theater and music are often associated with the highly upper class, people who have time in the evening to go out on the town.

I think of Broadway lights and glittering necklaces. I think of gloved hands holding opera glasses one minute and champagne glasses the next.

Maybe I’m the only snob in the room –but maybe I’m not? It is quite possible that many East County residents don’t consider themselves the theater-going type unless they have a kid in the second act or they have to show up to bring brownies for the bake-sale at intermission.

Who can spare an evening off when there are dishes to be done and work to finish.

But we live in an age when arts can actually thrive.

Centuries ago, mankind was much more concerned with fortifying their villages and ensuring their food supply would last the year than with pursuing – let alone enjoying –the arts.

Even a few hundred years ago, most civilizations were so base that their common man spent most of his waking hours a slave to his work. Only the very rich could listen to classical music played in concert in a great hall – and only the very fortunate were able to learn to play.

Even still, men and women flocked to more common theaters when William Shakespeare penned a great story – something to make one laugh, something to make one cry. Mankind wants to be moved.

In the words of Pablo Picasso, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

It is not only the general community of El Cajon that needs a Performing Arts Center – its residents do. They need a place to go to enjoy the human experience through a new lense.

If Spreckels Theater seems too far away, too gilded for East County residents, then perhaps The Magnolia can be our proverbial Globe Theater – a place for regular folk to go feel their hearts tugged.

So put the dishes in the dishwasher, be greatful that a day’s wage is easier to come by today that a hundred years ago, and go to the theater.

You won’t regret the night out.